^0 5 S 5 3 (j f\ ' LIBRARY THE TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART FOUNDED BY EDWARD DRUMMOND LIBBEY ■573 R553 q Co r "GREEK VASES" IHTRODUCTION R M Rie^s^ahJ In a time when momentary or unpremeditated effects are con sidered paramount artistic virtues witness the French impressionists^ action painting and the rage for pottery inspired by Japanese folk wares the study and appreciation of Greek Vases has become restricted to a few die hard classical scholars and connoisseurs This state of affairs is rather a pity„ because these sophls ticated wares - notice they are generally called wses, not pots - can teach us lessons of an orderly existence which wa might well try to emulate The same attitudes which produced the great monuments of Greek architecture;; drama p and poetry are epitomized in Greek Vases clarity of outline, economy of means,, and an under- lying unity of form, function, and decoration A Greek Vase may be likened to a Bach suite Just as the musical forms of Bach had their origins in folk songs and dances, but were refined and reformed into an artistically coherent whole by an expressive creative logic* so did the elegant types of Greek Vases in form and technique originate In earlier folk wares of the Mycenaean and Geometric periods A look at Japanese wares shows a use of clay which reveals I v ts dynamic plastic properties In a moist statfc While quite refined in their own terms^ the throwing marks on the sur- faces of these pots would not have satisfied the late Archaic and classical Greek potters who sought to embody timeless,, static canons of form in their products Hence f/ they realized that tb? best way to achieve th®ee effects of repose was to work the clay not in a plastic,, but In a stiff p semi- hardened state when the emotion charged spirals of throwing marks could be tooled $way leaving the closest approach to ideal form possible In a tangible material Yet, these G re ek Vases are not lifeless Small individual variations of form and decoration give each potter* s work resilience and personality^ expressing the Greek cultural ideal of individual liberty controlled by a rational, concise concept of order We must then try to judge the merit of Greek Vases in terms of their own cultural environment,, not looking for the "happy accident" of a dribbled glaze or random Impurity so sought after by Japanese potters., There are no "happy accidents" in Greek v ase s< Imperfect products were destroyed and only those which demonstrated a high level of artistic mastery and technical control were preserved., Greek standards were prob ably higher than ours in respect to Greek Vasesj many of the examples now preserved In museums were assembled from the broken fragments found In discard dumps II o TECHNIQUE Although modern science and archaeology have shed some light on how the Greeks made their wares, we are still not certain of some point s= These technical notes are therefore only tentative F orming: Wheel thrown (sometimes in sections) of fairly fine clay body; then "lathe" trimmed by hand for crisp profile Decoration; True vitreous glazes not used,, (vitreous glazes known in Egypt and Near East but apparently did not appeal to the Greek sense of clarity and order) So-called "glaze" on Greek pots is actually super fine clay particles and not silica (glass) As used by the Romans, called "terra sigellata" Colors probably made as follows: Black - iron added if not naturally present in clay (sometimes also manganese ore) Red — - iron and ochre added Purple- manganese ore added White - super fine pipe -clay (Kaolin) used Red lines on black grounds usually scratched through the clay body Instead of being painted on. Terra Sigellata often rub- bed or burnished for added polisho Alkali used as sintering (fusing) agent Firings Fired at low temperatures to produce porous^ friable ware, Temperatures near those of modern low bisque firingc Such temperatures are best for production of best color of body and decoration*, Temperature ranges: 800-950 centigrade? 1450-1750 fahrenheit; cone 08-014 Wares fired in one three cycle firingc Cycles: 1» Oxidized to mature body 2o Reduced to mature black decoration 3o Reoxidized to mature red decoration, if any Oxidized firing yields carbon dioxide and produces ferric oxide (buff red) from Iron*, Reduced firing yields carbon monoxide to produce ferrous oxide (shiny black) from iron. Oxidized firing accomplished by allowing air in kiln >; reduced by excluding Ito NAMES AND SHAPES 0? GREEK VASES / / iHPHORA— for holding oil,, wine, PELIKE— variant form and water of amphora / STAMN0S~»for wine / KRATER—- for mixing wine and water Column Krater Caly^ Krater Bell Kraier / HIDRIA— for water / / IEKITHOS— for oil and unguents. Often ALABASTRON— for used as offering for dead perfume / OINOCHOE— for ladling and pouring wine* Often used for tomb offerings / ARYBfcLLOS—for oil„ Commonly used by athletes / PlXIS—for cosmetics and toilet articles / / LESANIS— probably for food &/or SKYPROS (Kotyle)— cup small articles for drinking / KYUX— for drinking wine mixed with water XANTH&ROS— for drinking EIMfe: ?-*•■ a Pla&fl IV. HISTORICAL OUTLINE Sometimes in small bands who settled peaceably ^ sometimes in great waves that disrupted all previous settlement , the many tribes of Hellenes expanded southwards through what we now call Greece. Their migrations may have begun about 1700 B«C, The Minoan civilization of Crete was then at its height* secure in its sea power, freely creative in all branches of art. When the kings of Mycenae on the Greek mainland came to dominate a loose confederacy of lesser chieftains, they derived the equip ment of culture from Crete, At length, about 1400 B,C, they set sail for Crete and overthrew the Minoan Kingdom « A com- mon Mycenaean (or so-called f Helladic») culture now spread throughout the Eastern Mediterranean » Hellenic peoples still pressed down into Greece from the north* or sought fresh land in the Aegean Islands and the foreshores of Asia Minor • The Trojan War, sung by Homer , was an episode of this expansion; perhaps about 1200-1150 B>C, Agamemnon of Mycenae led a federation of bronze-clad chieftains to crush a centre of Asiatic resistance But Agamemnon's successors at Mycenae In turn succumbed to a final wave of northern invaders called the Dorians, formidable warriors with superior swords of iron, The Dorians slowly blotted out the old Minoan^Myeenean- Helladic civilization of the Aegean When a new Iron-Age cul- ture started^ from srery humble beginnings* it was definitely Greek, About this time, say 1100-900 BoCo„ three branches of the Hellenic race won homes on the Asia Minor coasts to the north the Aeoliansp to the south the Dorians j in the middle the more active Ioniansp whose chief city was Miletus. These settlers intermarried with their Asiatic neighbours, and mixed blood may have aided the precocious intellectual development of 'Eastern Greece*^ Here the Greek voice first spoke to the world through the mouths of Homer^ the lyric poets of Lesbos,, and the natural philosophers of Ionia, And the Ionian3 con- tributed much to ^reek art* They seem to have inherited some thing of the Minoan delight in fleeting appearance, In surface pattern, in vivacious movement j and from the art of their Asiatic neighbours they derived a feeling for sol**; and rounded plastic formso A contrasting preference for hard, close-knit,, intellectually-conceived forms developed in the Peloponnese and other lands where the people were mainly Dorian ° It was eventually left to the Athenians, themselves Ionian by race, to reconcile and fuse the Dorian and Ionian strains in the mature art of the fifth century » Greece again expanded in the two centuries 750-550 Bo Co Colonies were sent out by individual city states of Eastern and Mainland Greece, seeking land to cultivate as well as trade. In the Eastern Mediterranean the chain extended all round the coasts of Thrace and the Black Sea y and along south- em Asia Minor as far as Poseideion (All Mina) near Syrian Antiocho Two settlements lodged in Egypt, Cyrene and two other colonies in Libya c To the west;, the chain embraced the heel and toe of Italy as far as Cyme* neap Gym® „ near Naples,, and the whole coast of Sicily except the western corner The ' East-Greek cities sent even more colonies to the west than Mainland cities such as Corinth: indeed, the most astonishing venture was that of Phocaea, which from Asia Minor colonized Monoikos (Monaco),, Nicaea (Nlce)« Antlpolis (Anttbes)f, Massilia (Marseille b)„ and even Kmporiae (Ampurias) In Spalno Greek merchantmen swept the Black Sea and Mediterranean from end to endj» in rivalry with the Phoenicians based on Tyre and Sidon in the east,- and on Carthage^ Tunisia.^ and western Sicily in the westa Native peoples were on the whole friendly to the small Greek city-states on their coasts, for the advantages of trade were mutual* In return for minerals and agricultural produce p Greek ships brought wine, oil p end manufactured artloleso Of the last, good pottery was one of the most considerable items* It has been found wherever there were Greek colonies and far in their hinterland . ' ; Historically speaking, fine pottery made by the Greeks be- tween 1000 and 400 BoC falls into four main greupSo Before 700 BoC„ wares painted in brown or black monochrome with geo- metric decoration were made in many localities and exported only within a narrow radius o In the seventh century., pottery - and Greek art generally, underwent profound modifications owing to trade contacts with Egypt,, Phoenician and the inland peoples of Asiao Textiles,, carved ivory., and above all metal objects found their way into the cities of Eastern and Main- land Greece,, where their stylized ornament of human P animal and plant- forms encouraged potters to abandon the old geome trical designso This- orientalising phase of the seventh century saw also the introduction of polychrome painting and the 'black figure' technique,, wherein black painted silhouette figures were enriched with detail incised in the yet unfired clay 3 Eastern Greece preferred pure brush-painting j on the Mainland,, Corinth in particular developed the incised black figure o The main factories now supplied a very wide export trader The sixth century , until about 530 -, was the flowering of the mature black-flfeure technique j Athenian potters now captured the foreign markets from Corinth; and the brush- painted wares of Eastern Greece fell into decline,, From about 530 until 400 BoC. Athenian pottery alone deserves con- sideration s most of it being painted in the red-figure technique of figures reserved in a black-painted groundo (Taken from Lane PPo 18-20* see Bibliography » ) SUBJECT MATTER OF VASE PAINTING The subject matter of Greek Vase painting is rich and varied^ presenting a summary of Greek life and thought* Religious ritual was closely bound up in everyday life - much more so than today o The gods were invoke not only at weddings^, fun erals, etc., but also at athletic contests £ . banquets^ and at public fountains. It is not surprising, therefore^ to find diverse subjects on vases of single type - on a Kylix for instance e Dionysos, the god of wine, may be represented; or a scene of festivity; or some political topic as might be discussed at a banquet* All these subjects are appropriate to the use of the vessel- This is an important point,, The best Greek vase painters tried to relate the subject of their decoration to the use of the par- ticular type of potp as well as harmonizing composition and style with its forme This is but another instance of the Greek artist's desire to express himself rationally and coher ently within a unified and disciplined outlook. Historically speaking,, the range of subjects varies a good deal, In geometric and orientalising wares subjects are usually horses, riders, or animals in continuous friezes and in smaller vessels fantastic beats - gryphons and harpies - singly or in small groups o ■ . On Black Figured wares Dionysiac revels or scenes from Heroic legends* particularly Herakles and Theseus who were favorites of the Athenian predominate • In contrasts new themes enter in developed Red Figure wares - scenes of daily life banquets, revels, etc, and single fig- ures of animals,, birds and athletes.. On small cups the Atheni- an owl frequently appears e One group of Vases called Panathenaic amphorae were awarded as prizes in athletic contests. On one side they bear a representation of Athene in whose honor the games were held and on the other a scene of the type of contest chariot race., discus throwing,, wrestling match, etc for which the prize amphora was awarded VI . SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Arthur Lane v Greek Pottery , New York (1947) GcMoAo Mentor and Marjorie J, Milne* Shapes and Names of Athenian Vases , New York* 1935 Marie Farnsworth and Harriet Wisely* " Fifth Century Intentional Red Glaze 11 ,. American Journal of Archaeology , Vol 62 „ No. 2 April, 1958, Po 165 etc seq, HoDePc Kitto* The Greeks (A Pelican Book),, Harmond-Sworth* 1951. Robert Graves* The Greek Myths fl 2 Vols.,* Baltimore* 1955 RMR:lw 3/61 PAMPHLET BINDER ^^^ Syracuse, N. Y. ^^^ Stockton, Calif. 'Greek vases' . 573 R 553 Q 380000002B6670 111 Riefstahl, Rudolf M. Toledo Museum of Art 01995 DATE DUE \.